Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Strange Bedfellows”

“Strange Bedfellows”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Season 7, Episode 19
Production episode 40510-569
Original air date: April 21, 1999
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Oddly, the only scenes we get in the “last time” bit are the ones that establish that a) Worf and Dax were captured by the Breen and b) the Breen have allied with the Dominion. Worf and Dax are then taken away to a cell, and Damar is introduced to the Breen commander, Thot Gor, who is dismissive of the legate. The female changeling manages to make herself look not-flaky long enough to meet Thot Gor. Damar is very not happy at being kept out of the loop and even less happy that the treaty calls for territorial concessions to be made by Cardassia to the Breen, but doesn’t specify what those concessions are to be. Damar’s also peevish because the Klingons are attacking Septimus III and the Cardassian forces there need reinforcements. Weyoun says he’ll handle it, which he says with all the sincerity of a used-car salesman, and all the specifics of the treaty with the Breen.

On DS9, Martok and Sisko discuss the two wars—the one against the Dominion as well as what Martok refers to as the one at home, specifically marriage. The general refers to his marriage to Sirella as a long, brutal, intoxicating war and says that Sisko’s in for the same now. As if to prove the point, Yates returns from her cargo run to discover that, as the wife of the Emissary, she’s expected to perform a ceremony that blesses all the Bajoran women who wish to have children. Yates very emphatically refuses.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

Elsewhere, Winn and Dukat-as-Anjohl have pillow talk on the subject of the Restoration and how they won’t let Sisko stand in their way. There’s no actual evil cackling or twirling of mustaches, but it’s implied.

The Dominion has Worf and Dax hanging upside down from the ceiling because why not. Eventually, they are allowed to walk on the floor again, though their attempt to loosen a pin from the bunk devolves into yet another bickering session, which is mercifully interrupted by Weyoun and Damar. Weyoun makes them an offer: help them sort through the chaotic information provided by the Breen mental probes, or be turned over to Damar for a Cardassian show trial that will end in their executions. While trying to convince them, Weyoun makes reference to Dax’s as-yet-unexpressed feelings for Bashir, which prompts Worf to snap Weyoun’s neck. This gives Damar a good laugh, and he tells Worf that they’ll just make another one.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

Winn’s attempt to find out more about “Anjohl” is interrupted by another vision, but this time the Pah-wraiths are up-front and say that the Restoration isn’t of Bajor, but of them to the Celestial Temple. Devastated, Winn instructs Dukat to have Solbor bring her the Orb from the temple on the station.

Weyoun #8 meets with Damar, who is still greatly amused by Weyoun #7’s fate. Damar informs him that the prisoners’ execution is scheduled for 1400 the next day, and when he says that they haven’t agreed to cooperate, Damar chortles as he suggests that Weyoun try talking to Worf again.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

Thot Gor and several Breen aides join the conversation, at which point Damar is much less jovial, especially once the Breen are given full access to Cardassian military databases. Weyoun also informs Damar that all military strategies will go through Thot Gor and he will pass them on to the Founder.

Solbor brings the Orb of Prophecy to Winn. But when she exposes herself to it, nothing happens. She believes that the Prophets have forsaken her because she was in communication with the Pah-wraiths. At this point, Dukat lets the other shoe drop, saying that he came to Winn because of a vision he got from “the true gods of Bajor,” the Pah-wraiths. He does the Pah-wraith sales pitch, saying that they’ll give her what she wants, unlike the Prophets who turned their backs on Bajor during the occupation, who appointed an alien Emissary.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

Winn, however, isn’t buying it, and she kicks “Anjohl” out. Dukat’s parting shot is to tell her that she’s damning herself to a life in Sisko’s shadow. Winn pleads with the Prophets to give her a sign, but they remain silent. So she summons Kira to her quarters and bares her soul, saying that Kira was right to disapprove of Winn all these years. Kira says Winn should get rid of the things that led her on this disastrous path: her ambition, her political machinations. But Kira is talking about her stepping down as kai, and Winn absolutely refuses to take that step. Bajor needs her after all.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

Damar is livid to realize that Septimus III has fallen to the Klingons. Weyoun sent no reinforcements, and 500,000 Cardassians died. To Weyoun it was a strategic victory: the Klingons committed a ton of their forces to a comparatively insignificant world. To Damar, it’s the latest in a series of sacrifices made by Cardassians on behalf of the Dominion, something Weyoun thinks he should be honored by. Damar storms out and goes to his quarters to pour himself yet another kanar. But he only takes one shot—the second he tosses at a mirror, so he doesn’t have to look at himself.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

Worf and Dax manage to escape their cell, but are recaptured in short order. They have their first honest conversation, with Dax getting Worf to admit that he feels guilty for not loving Ezri the way he loved Jadzia. Dax admits to the same thing, and they bury the hatchet and agree to be friends—and more—for the few minutes they have left. After they come to their rapprochement, Damar comes for them, accompanied by two Jem’Hadar guards—

—whom Damar then shoots. He gives the Jem’Hadar’s rifles to Worf and Dax and tells them there’s a Cardassian ship preprogrammed to get them back to Deep Space 9. He wants them to deliver a message to the Federation: they have a friend on Cardassia.

Weyoun is livid, but Damar blames the Jem’Hadar whom Weyoun insisted be left in charge of the detention area after Worf and Dax’s escape attempt. The female changeling then summons Weyoun to report to her. Damar says that he’s sure the Founder will understand—and if she doesn’t, he looks forward to meeting Weyoun #9.

Winn summons Dukat to her quarters, admitting for the first time that she never felt anything from the Prophets, not even when she first saw the wormhole open. Fed up with serving gods who refuse to give her anything in return, she drinks the Pah-wraith Kool-Aid, with “Anjohl” by her side, ready to take on the universe on their behalf.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

The Sisko is of Bajor: Yates starts to learn what it means to be the wife of the Emissary, not only in her presence being requested at rituals, but also her Bajoran crewmembers are treating her completely differently now, even though they’ve known her for ten years or more.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Winn goes to Kira for advice on what to do, giving Kira the ideal opportunity to get rid of a bad kai under the guise of good advice. Sadly, Winn doesn’t see it as good advice, because that would mean giving up power, and she’s not about to do that

The slug in your belly: As they’re about to be executed, Dax expresses annoyance to Worf that the only legacy that Ezri Tigan will bring to three centuries of Dax will be to end it.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf tells Dax what we’ve all known since “The Emissary” on TNG: he doesn’t believe in casual sex, but rather that intercourse is a deeply spiritual bond between people who love each other. He also admits that what he did with Dax before the Breen captured them was, er, not spiritual.

Rules of Acquisition: Since Dax and Worf’s disappearance, Quark has been regularly putting out Dax’s usual beverage at the usual time that she drinks it, in the hopes that eventually she will be there to have it.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Strange Bedfellows

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Dax admits that her feelings for Bashir were all in her subconscious mind, and Worf and Dax both admit that having sex was a spectacularly stupid thing for them to do, based on memories of past lives instead of anything in their current ones. Oh, and Dukat and Winn are eating fruit in bed together, which is adorable in a skin-crawling kind of way.

For Cardassia! Damar semi-officially begins the Cardassian resistance by freeing Worf and Dax and giving them the means to return to DS9 and a) report the Breen alliance and b) let the Federation know that Damar is rebelling. (I was going to say, “Damar is revolting,” but some jokes are just too obvious…)

Victory is life: For their initial meeting, at least, the female changeling is unwilling to let the Breen or Damar see how badly the disease has ravaged her. In this new alliance, the Breen obviously have a superior position to that of the Cardassians.

Keep your ears open: “Why should we trust you?”

“You can either trust me, or you can stay here and be executed.”

“I vote for option one.”

Worf not trusting Damar, Damar pointing out why that’s stupid, and Dax agreeing with Damar.

Welcome aboard: Recurring regulars Marc Alaimo (the disguised Dukat), Casey Biggs (Damar), Jeffrey Combs (two different Weyouns), Louise Fletcher (Winn), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Salome Jens (the female changeling), and Penny Johnson (Yates) are all here, plus James Otis returns as Solbor.

Trivial matters: The original title of this episode was “Eclipse,” which made a nice troika with “Penumbra” and “Umbra” (the latter being the original title of “’Til Death Do Us Part”). The titles were changed when the Sisko-Yates wedding was moved from this episode to the previous one.

Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler, and Rene Echevarria all worked on this script as well because Ronald D. Moore’s wife went into labor a month earlier than expected, and he needed to take a week off.

Walk with the Prophets: “I’m glad to see you find the death of my predecessor so amusing.” It’s interesting, I find myself much better disposed toward this episode than I do “’Til Death Do Us Part,” even though it has many of the same problems. I think there are two reasons for this. One is that Ronald D. Moore is about a billion times better at dialogue than David Weddle and Bradley Thompson. There are many great lines in here, from Dax’s musing on how hanging upside down is good for her back, to the endless well of amusement that Weyoun #7’s death provides for Damar.

The other reason is that plots actually move forward substantially this time around. We’ve had Damar chafing under Weyoun’s thumb all season, we’ve had Worf and Dax being super-awkward and bickering with each other all season, and we’ve had Dukat playing Winn for just one episode, but all three move forward significantly and importantly in this episode.

Damar finally stops drinking and addresses why he’s drinking. After all, Worf killing Weyoun (which was, by the way, a great moment) was the only thing that Damar has actually enjoyed since being promoted to legate. And so he finally makes the decision to go against his oppressors, to go against the people who have been gleefully sacrificing Cardassian lives to fight their war.

Worf and Dax also finally have the talk they should have had an episode ago (or better yet, several episodes ago), hashing out the awkwardness and weirdness of being thrown together in this situation. It’s something that Worf is ill-equipped to deal with—he’s had people in his life die (his parents, K’Ehleyr), but he’s never had them still be around, and especially not in such a unique way. It’s completely short-circuited his grieving process. On Dax’s end, Ezri wasn’t properly prepared for joining, so she had this intense memory of a great love, and no clue how to process it.

Of course, it would’ve been nice for them to get to this point sooner without all the endless, repetitive bickering, but we live in an imperfect world. At the very least, they got to that point, so, y’know, small favors.

And then we have Dukat and Winn. Parts of this work very well. Dukat plays his hand beautifully for one thing, and Winn’s great desire to be contrite and be forgiven lasting right up to the part where she has to give up her cushy-tushy job as kai, after which, the hell with that, is perfectly played by the always-excellent Louise Fletcher. Other parts really don’t, though, particularly the closing scene which had every single super-villain cliché and I just wanted to gag. It was as big a misstep as Sisko’s speech at the end of “Waltz,” reducing complex characters to mustache-twirling villains, which is a huge disservice to both characters, and an embarrassment to a show that has so often favored nuance. It’s especially disheartening to have it in the very same episode in which Damar makes such a major breakthrough. This is Damar, whose job in the fourth and fifth season was to be second Cardassian on the left, who’s become such a delightfully compelling character. It’s a triumphant moment when he tosses the kanar into the mirror—although I still love his guffaws when he suggests that Weyoun try talking to Worf again best—and Casey Biggs is simply amazing.

Still, things are changing: the Breen are now part of the Dominion’s fleet and their strategic process, Damar is becoming disillusioned, and Winn has (sigh) embraced the Pah-wraiths. Where the previous episode felt like stalling, there’s real forward motion here, and it comes along with some excellent scenes—and, sadly, some bad ones, especially that awful ending.

 

Warp factor rating: 7


Keith R.A. DeCandido has stories in two Spring 2015 anthologies (both edited by Jonathan Maberry and published by IDW) available for preorder: V-Wars: Night Terrors, the third in Maberry’s shared-world vampire anthology series with Keith’s story “Streets of Fire,” and The X-Files: Trust No One, the first of three licensed anthologies based on the TV show created by Chris Carter, with Keith’s story “Back in El Paso My Life Would be Worthless.”

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